Last Friday morning my family set off to pick up our Christmas tree. My husband and brother set off in our little pickup and Little A and I took our car. I am an avid NPR listener so when I turned the key in my ignition, familiar voices came over the radio. It was only a moment before I realized as I was pulling out of my parking space that they were reporting breaking news. I turned the volume up and, with horror, I listened.
This photo (public domain) is for Emilie Parker and all the lost children from Sandy Hook Elementary
The reports were jumbled and mixed but what came across crystal clear was that over a dozen children and adults were dead at Sandy Hook Elementary due to a young gunman. Not just any children but sweet little babies. Tears started rolling down my cheeks as I looked in the rear-view at my beautiful daughter. The thought of the smallest, most innocent of little children being shot down overcame me.
The first thing I did was call my mom. I could tell, as she answered, that she already knew but I asked anyway. “Yes, I know” she choked out. We sat silently crying for a moment together. Having fostered, adopted and loved so many of the world’s children, my mom has a very unique and special outlook- that the world’s children belong to the world, to each of us. That just because a child isn’t born to you, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t love him, and that you aren’t responsible for his well-being.
I grew up with this beautiful idea coursing through me but it wasn’t until I started a more serious spiritual life that the idea blossomed into a strong belief. My studies as a Buddhist have led me to the belief that we all belong to each other, that we aren’t separate entities but many parts of a whole. It was with a heart full of that belief that I sat in my car and bawled.
The children who were murdered weren’t just their parent’s children, they were mine. So I sat and mourned the loss of life and of innocence. I also mourned the death of the shooter. I can’t imagine what kind of life you would have to have lived to be able to look at those innocent little faces and unleash that violence. It must have been a tortured existence, in one way or another.
I wish that we, as occupants of the world, would accept the responsibility of each other more often. I hope that all the people of the world who heard of this tragedy, parents and non-parents alike, took some time to feel the weight of this incredible loss. I feel that it’s only by recognizing our suffering that we can make true change so that this doesn’t happen again.
In closing, I want to send my love to those parents and direct community who are dealing with this loss so close to “home”. I don’t think a day has gone by that I haven’t shed tears for those lost and I will hold this close to my heart so that I can truly appreciate all the little children, including my precious Little A.